Labour Law in India

Labour law also known as employment law is the body of laws, administrative rulings, and precedents which address the legal rights of, and restrictions on, working people and their organizations. As such, it mediates many aspects of the relationship between trade unions, employers and employees. In other words, Labour law defines the rights and obligations as workers, union members and employers in the workplace. Generally, labour law covers: Industrial relations – certification of unions, labour-management relations, collective bargaining and unfair labour practices; Workplace health and safety;

Employment standards, including general holidays, annual leave, working hours, unfair dismissals, minimum wage, layoff procedures and severance pay. There are two broad categories of labour law. First, collective labour law relates to the tripartite relationship between employee, employer and union. Second, individual labour law concerns employees’ rights at work and through the contract for work. The labour movement has been instrumental in the enacting of laws protecting labour rights in the 19th and 20th centuries. Labour rights have been integral to the social and economic development since the industrial revolution.

Labour law in India is also known as the Industrial Law. The current labour law legislation in India is an event of British colonialism. The industrial or labour law that was enacted by the British was to protect the British employers. Thus came the Factories Act. It is well known that the Indian textile industry offered stiff competition with that of the British textiles in the export market in 1880. So the British imposed a law called the “The Factories Act, 1883”. This was mainly done to protect the British Employers and to reduce the export rate of Indian Textiles.

It was then there was changes in the Labour system of India. A strict stipulation of eight hour work was implemented. Abolition of child labour was imposed, restriction of women to work at night, and the introduction of wages for over time working. While the impact of these measures were clearly welfarist, they were clearly protectionist. Thencame The Trade Disputes Act, 1929. This was to regulate the relationship between the employee and the employer. Provisions regarding the act of strike and lock out was clearly defined in this act.

In the very early stages of British colonial control, there was little attention paid to the legal organisation of work by the authorities. Labour organisation and the production process remained, apart from a few exceptions, a matter of family, land and cultural regulation. The earliest British regulations related to workers in the government service, including the military, and ‘forced labour’ for the performance of public works. However, from the 1880s onwards there was a succession of legislative interventions by the colonial government, mainly in relation to the employment of women and children, and concerning hours of work, in factories and mines.

Much of this legislation was the result of various government-initiated enquiries. However, the legislation made only very slight inroads into working practices in these industries, and was of limited impact insofar as it applied only selectively. Regulation in the plantation sector was focused principally upon matters relating to labour supply and the problems of the indentured labour system. Post independence, India made various changes in the Acts that was formed by the British government. New laws and amendments were added to the Indian Constitution.

A tripartite conference was held in December 1947. Members of the tripartite were employees, employers and members of trade union. In this tripartite meeting, it was agreed that employee would be given fair wages and fair working conditions and in return the employer may receive the fullest co-operation of labour for uninterrupted production and higher productivity as part of the strategy for national economic development.

The original colonial legislation underwent substantial modifications in the post‐colonial era because independent India called for a clear partnership between labour and capital. The content of this partnership was unanimously approved in a tripartite conference in

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